Q. Nosy neighbor: I have been living in the same apartment for 10 years. I have a really good deal on the rent and am paying far under market value in my high-rent city, so moving is not really an option. I am single and happy staying that way. I simply don’t like living with other people. I do date. Recently, I invited over a male friend, and we ran into my neighbor, an elderly widower. The widower loudly made the comment that I date so many men he can’t keep track of them all! Prudie, I was shocked by his rudeness. It’s not even true that I date that many men. I’ve had maybe five different men over the entire time I’ve lived here. But even if I did date a lot of men, how is that any of his business? I felt like I was being slut-shamed. What should I say to my neighbor to get him to keep his comments to himself?
A: “What an incredibly rude thing to say.”
“You don’t have to keep track of them at all; I have their names written down and everything”
“Please don’t comment on my personal life.”
These are all fine responses. (I’d stop short of cursing him out or “I invite you to die mad about it,” so keep a sense of proportion in mind.) But it was rude, and you’re perfectly entitled to bristle, although it will help to remind yourself that he’s just a nosy neighbor and not your RA—he doesn’t have any actual power over you. Since he’s only said one rude thing in the ten years you’ve lived in this building, you can nip it in the bud and don’t have to worry overmuch about losing your general sense of peace and equanimity.
I guess one could wonder if COVID safety was on your neighbor’s mind—but presumably if that were the case, he would have said something to that effect, rather than “Five’s an awfully big number, isn’t it?”